I’m a business leader, yes — but who I am is a ‘creative’

Sue Odle - Invest Ottawa — Ottawa women business leaders

I’ve been in business for a long time, specifically in technology.  

Choosing technology as an industry means accepting that most of your peers, managers, and clients who hold decision-making power will be men. Knowing that, you have a choice: claim your ground in that environment or choose something different. I love tech, so I decided to claim my ground. It’s been 27 years, with no end in sight; I love it too much. 

I am creative above all else, and that foundation has been critical in developing resilience and, as a result, success in technology and business.  

I’m more than a creative thinker; I’ve produced works. I’m a singer-songwriter with three releases of original music over the years, with more to come.  

There is no guarantee that people will like your art, but you make it anyway because something inside you is driven to do so. You do it as honestly and with the highest commitment to quality as possible. After many months — maybe years — of creation, production, and investment, you release your work into the market and hope for critical support at a minimum and monetary potential if you’re lucky.  

Sue Odle is Founder & CEO of 8020CS

I might have been talking about a tech startup writing that previous paragraph.  

To be an artist or a leader is to embrace risk and commitment to breaking ground. The journey of a creative or a leader is to hit walls continuously, bounce back, and navigate your way around, over, or through them and keep going.   

As a creative, I choose not to judge an environment but to spend my time understanding and navigating it toward a positive outcome that makes sense and is achievable — this is me leveraging who I am as a creative person in my business life.  

Fifteen years ago, I could not have imagined telling people that my creative side drives my business success. Today, it’s accepted that creative leaders drive business growth.

There are many articles on the topic. A scientific study was published by the U.S. Government’s NIH (National Institute of Health) and authored by the School of Management at Jilin University in China. 

So, here is my call to action for you: 

What are you passionate about, and how does that passion support your success in your job? Talk about it! You can be passionate about things that have nothing to do with business and simultaneously be a force in business. I guarantee there is overlap.  

I’ve been a singer-songwriter longer than I have been in tech. Music is air to me. I can’t live without it. It’s my soundtrack to life.   

As a songwriter who loves to write on guitar, I use tools like notes, chords, strumming, fingerpicking, melodies, time signatures, and words. My creativity lets me put these together in new ways all the time, creating something new that makes sense musically.  

Business is no different.  

We have tools: data, people, skills, traction in the market, stories, words, processes, and client experiences. Creativity in orchestrating these things to produce something harmonious is just as important in business. Creativity influences how a business operates and helps people do something new, or better, which is the most rewarding part of the journey. 

I challenge all of you to look at your passions in your private life and see the connections to how they help or improve your work life. We women all have gifts that are meant to be shared with others — and the sharing makes us stronger. 

Feel confident to share your passions. Connect them to how they help you succeed at work. The more we are our authentic selves, the more we help our workplaces to be strong, vibrant, inclusive places which enhance the health and wellness of all who work there. And that’s good for the bottom line. 

This essay is brought to you in Partnership with The Honest Talk and Invest Ottawa.


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